Chronic Tendonitis is Often a Warning Sign of Poor Digestion and Malnourishment

New Options for Relieving Chronic Pain and Muscle Weakness

”All diseases begin in the gut.” Hippocrates (460-370 BC)

Imagine: You are a successful professional musician, having spent your entire life mastering your instrument. You however, are fighting a difficult struggle—you have chronic tendonitis, embouchure weakness, or other debilitating problems that make performance a constant struggle. You have researched thoroughly and tried every physical therapy treatment—chiropractic, massage, yoga, Alexander Technique, muscle balancing, Rolfing, etc., etc., etc. You are even eating a very healthy diet—but you continue to have recurring problems that are manageable only with a strict regimen of physical therapy treatments. Is this you? When chronic pain is ongoing, a digestive disorder may be to blame.

This was my story. Although I had been playing professionally and teaching for more than 25 years, I had spent much of that time in pain. Beginning in my late teens and 20s, I experienced musculoskeletal inflammation and early symptoms of digestive troubles such as flatulence—a sign of poor digestion. I relieved my pain through physical therapy-type approaches common to the field of music—you name it; I did it! In my late twenties and throughout my thirties, I was constantly “chasing” pain from practicing and performing. When I would solve the discomfort in one area, another area would become irritated. At 40, I developed acid reflux and in the fall of 2001, at 45, I became chronically ill with an inflammatory condition in my spine that left me with debilitating pain in my shoulders, fingers, arms, and hands. As my illness worsened, my embouchure shook uncontrollably and I suffered from chronic diarrhea and malabsorption. I thought would not survive.

Ultimately, I was diagnosed with a long-term digestive problem, intestinal damage, and malabsorption—all the result of Celiac disease (an intolerance for gluten grains), and surprisingly, following the common low-fat, high-fiber nutritional dictates. I found the answers to healing through a dramatic change in my diet, adopting the principles of Dr. Weston Price, whose research on healthy cultures worldwide during the 1930s led to the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and the Weston A. Price Foundation (, a foundation that helps people understand accurate dietary principles of human health and is helping to improve the food supply in our country.

I knew the problems I suffered were common not only to musicians, but to people in all walks of life as our country’s food supply has drastically changed since the 1950s. I decided to help others have access to this life-saving information by writing a book with Dr. John Turner, the chiropractor who helped me recover who is a former national qualifying gymnast, and Sally Fallon, the founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Our book is called Performance Without Pain: Healing Pain, Inflammation, and Chronic Ailments in Musicians, Athletes, Dancers—and Everyone Else (New Trends, 2006).

In my book, we discuss what foods cause digestion problems and chronic ailments. We also discuss the vital necessity of eating traditionally raised foods, adequate amounts of vitamin A and D and traditional fats—fats that people ate for 1000s of years. Without these foods, digestion and nutrient absorption can eventually be severely compromised.

We also cover the importance of traditionally cultured foods that promote healthy intestinal flora, without which our foods are not broken down properly and unhealthy bacteria can thrive in the intestinal tract causing bacterial fermentation and intestinal damage. When the intestinal tract becomes damaged, undigested proteins can “leak” through the intestinal wall, causing an immune system response and inflammatory chemicals to continually circulate throughout the body. For musicians, dancers, or athletes, this can lead to a predisposition to injury and inflammation.

From his research, Dr. Price established a set of dietary requirements necessary for optimal human health that involve nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest foods with adequate traditional fats from pastured animals and wild-caught fish. These include:

•    High-vitamin A and D foods—for instance cod-liver oil, egg yolks, liver
•    High quality traditional fats—butter, coconut oil, lard
•    Bone-broth soups made from chicken, beef, or fish.
•    Traditionally cultured foods such as kefir, yogurt and homemade sauerkraut and pickled beets.
•    High quality proteins—meats, raw dairy, poultry, eggs, and fish—from animals eating their natural diets.

Through this approach, I reversed my acid reflux and intestinal damage, and provided my body with the nutritional elements necessary for building health. I am now recovered and vibrantly healthy! For the first time in 25 years I have had no pain or inflammation in my body for over four years. My embouchure is completely strong and I have excellent stamina.

Although finding high-quality foods and changing your diet may at first be complicated, your health is your most important asset. The dietary principles that Dr. Price found that supported optimal human health were the permanent answer to healing my digestive tract, and therefore, my long-term pain. The exciting news is there is a growing movement of people across the country that is turning to these same foods to improve chronic illness of all kinds.

For more information about our book and seminars see or our new ebook on acid reflux diet.

14 thoughts on “Chronic Tendonitis is Often a Warning Sign of Poor Digestion and Malnourishment”

  1. Thank you for this contribution. At twenty-two, I’ve already suffered from chronic inflammation for the past five or six years. This has mostly manifested as severe wrist tendonitis joined with lower back pain and knee pain. Formerly an avid tennis player, runner, and swimmer, I’ve had to stop doing all of these activities despite physical therapy, months of icing, different supplements, etc.

    This past year, I’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and have been put on prednisone for over a year. After copious hours of research, I’ve changed my diet (now strict paleo) and am hoping to add colostrum and other intestinal-supportive supplements. I hope, with continued healing of my digestive tract, to achieve remission from my autoimmune condition and, perhaps, find relief–FINALLY–for my inflammatory issues.

    Best of luck to you and anyone dealing with similar problems.

  2. Dear Sam,
    So glad you are finding answers to your health issues. I know how frightening they are. I would recommend that you study the materials offered in my book as they will give you more information that could assist your process of overcoming your health issues.
    Many Blessings,
    Kathryne Pirtle

  3. Wow, I am encouraged to hear that you found relief for your chronic symptoms after many years. I am 31, and for over 10 years I have suffered from various forms of tendonitis. I currently have recurring episodes of tendonitis in my wrists, elbows, shoulder, knees (IT band), ankles and feet (arches). My knee, ankle and wrist joints pop and crack constantly, and my right knee joint does not track properly. I’ve been to several doctors who act like it’s no big deal and just prescribe pain killers and antidepressants. Like you, I’ve tried all kinds of therapies. Here is my question: others have suggested to me that it may be celiac, so I asked the Dr to do a test. I got a blood test done and the result came out negative. I’ve heard that these tests can be unreliable however. What is your opinion? Also, do you think there could be any correlation with eating dairy? I also have been sidelined from my instrument and I miss playing guitar!!! I really hope I can find some answers like you did. Thanks!

  4. Hi Laurel,

    I recommend that you cut out grains and sugar and turn to a diet of nutrient-dense foods that will heal your gut and inflammation. I would start with a diet of exclusively bone broth soups and then add cultured raw dairy from grass fed cows and see how you tolerate it. First–you must read my book–it will help you understand everything. It is very inexpensive and if you follow the protocol–will get you on the road to build your health.

    Please keep in touch!

  5. Hi Kathy, thanks for your reply. I have ordered your book and look forward to getting started! Have a couple of questions in the meantime: you said to start with only bone broth soups? For how long? Also, is it ok to take vitamins while eating only broth? Most of the vitamins I take are in tablet form. Thanks again,

  6. Hi Laura,

    I would stay on the broth and bone broth soups (broth with meat and vegetables)–for about one week and then gradually add other nutrient-dense foods. I am not a fan of vitamin pills–the body does not register them as food and they are fractionated nutrients. Cod liver oil and butter oil from and dulse (a iodine rich seaweed–see are great foods that will serve as adding the vitamins and minerals you may be missing in your diet. When your digestion is poor–vitamin pills are a huge waste on money. Whole real food is where your body will receive the nutrients it needs.

    Hope this helps! Kathy

  7. I’m so thrilled to find this! I’ve been suffering with tendinitis and bursitis in my right shoulder and forearm for a few years. I’m a avid gardener, clean homes for a living and in general ‘really put it to it’ when it comes to my right arm. I went strictly paleo – lost over a 100lbs, and guess what – all pain went away! Now – three days ago I ate pizza, dairy, and some sugary treats and I can’t move my right arm at all again – I’m so perplexed! It just seems preposterous to me that I could suffer from inflammation that quick…Was wondering what your thoughts were.

  8. Hi Jayne,

    I am not surprised! You have allergies to these foods and probably still have a leaky gut–so you react immediately. May I recommend that my book will help you heal your gut a little more thoroughly than just a paleo approach. I had chronic pain and inflammation for 25 years. I have been pain-free for 13 years since healing with a nutrient-dense diet that heals the gut.

    Blessings on your healing journey!

    Kathryne Pirtle

  9. Hi Kathryne,

    I’m very glad I found your website and book! I recently visited a holistic doctor who diagnosed me with leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, and an underactive thyroid. I’ve had a myriad of troubling symptoms for a couple of years now including digestive problems, depression, anxiety, mood swings, extreme fatigue, aches and pains, and most frustrating of all, almost 2 years of tendonitis in my foot and ankle that will not go away no matter what physical therapies I try on it. Up until now, I’ve been trying to treat each individual symptom, and didn’t realize that all the symptoms were originating from an unhealthy gut. It all makes so much sense now why nothing was improving! My doctor’s treatment plan for me is very much in line with what you did during your journey. I’ll be buying your book and referring to it throughout my journey.

    Out of curiosity, how long did it take before you started to notice your symptoms diminish, and how long before you were vibrant and totally pain free? I know every person is different, but I’m just curious what the case was for you.

    Thanks for spreading awareness.



  10. Hi Katie,

    I am so sorry you have been suffering so much. I know you are on the right track. It does take time to heal. I would focus on bone broth soups and bone broth to heal the tissues of the gut and the n add fermented foods-kefir is great– liver, raw butter and gradually all the other nutrient-dense foods.

    You should start seeing improvements in about a month, but expect it to take several years to really see huge changes. I would look in increments of 6 months.

    Feel free to contact me.

    Many blessings,
    Kathryne Pirtle

  11. Hi Kathryne,

    I just got your book and I am currently on day 3 of the diet. I have been dealing with bouts of tendonitis/tendonosis for over 10 years, which started from when I played tennis as a teenager. Consequently, It takes me months if not a year to heal from these injuries. I’m following the diet, but I really can’t stand the taste of my homemade kefir. Is it possible to get enough probiotics without this? Should I try coconut kefir instead? Also, do you think I should get a leaky gut test? I’m hoping to heal as quickly as possible as I miss playing drums and my susceptibility to wrist tendonitis has been the reason I haven’t been able to take my skills to a full time professional level.

  12. Wow this is something I need to look into. Ive been suffering from severe, body-wide tendinitis and poor digestion. My only fear is that this book is going to tell me to eat a bunch of animal protien which I simply cannot do as I am vegan and that in itself is one of the biggest blessing in my life. Are there alternatives that you cover in this book?

  13. Dear Sarah,

    I have seen so many vegan’s health deteriorate to the point of severe debilitating illness that I do hope you will listen to my life- supporting suggestions.

    I would hate to have your suffering increase. Please consider following a new path. Organic food from grass fed animals is so full of healing nutrients. At least consider look into pasture eggs, cultured raw dairy and bone broth soups as a start of a new healing journey.

    Many Blessings,
    Kathryne Pirtle
    Clarinetist, Orion Ensemble
    Author. Performance without Pain

  14. I have the same concern as Sarah S. I abstain from animal proteins for ethical reasons, so as much as I’d like to enjoy the benefits of consuming certain animals (fish, scallops, shrimp in particular), but I can’t seem to prioritize my health over theirs.

    I was diagnosed with Crohn’s about 6 years ago. I have experienced all manner of complications, including fistulae, tendonitis, bleeding, etc. Against doctor’s orders, I stopped taking all pharmaceuticals (steroids, anti-inflammatories, immunosuppressants), feeling these interventions were causing more harm than good.

    Up until the last 2 weeks, I had not experienced any debilitating symptoms in over 2 years. Unfortunately, I am have noticed Crohn’s symptoms re-emerging in the form of significant digestive discomfort and bloating, fecal abnormalities and now tendonitis and joint pain…

    I also have reason to believe I have some pretty significant absorption issues. Wondering if there is scar tissue or a thickened mucosal lining that prevents me from being able to absorb properly. Leaky gut also seems a valid possibility.

    I believe there are solutions for persons who, for ethical reasons, do not consume animal derivatives– although, the issue can certainly be made more difficult if dietary supplements are not easily absorbed, as I believe may be the case with me. I actually take isotonic supplements, which the manufacturer claims is bioavailable up to 98% just minutes after ingesting. I wonder if this statement holds true for people with stomach lining maladies.

    Anywho– I think now and again about how easy it used to be to prepare a meal that agreed with my body, with tilapia as the protein. But, then I remind myself how it wasn’t very easy for the fish :/

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